Before you munch down on all that chocolate candy in the Easter basket, consider the real truth about which dark chocolate has cocoa flavanols to lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.

IMG_0949Only a special patent and proprietary process of chocolate production conserves the naturally occurring flavanols from cocoa beans. That patent is held by a family owned chocolate company whose interest the past 10 years was to develop a heart healthy indulgence. Along the way, another big chocolate company tried to infringe on the patent process but closer scrutiny indicates that their dark chocolate label reads very different than the original producer in maintaining cocoa flavanoids. Don’t be fooled by “natural source of flavanol antioxidants”.

The cocoa bean is one of the richest sources of flavanols but the content of flavanols in RAW cocoa beans is different when it is made into chocolate , unless the patent process is used. Chocolate manufacturers roast, ferment, pulverize and even alkalize cocoa which destroys the flavanols.

What about the studies that report cardiovascular disease improvement in blood pressure and blood flow through arteries. A close look at the studies show that the cocoa source used in these studies come from the same patent and proprietary source company. Even the press release of the FASEB Journal article in March 2014 entitled “Dark Chocolate Deters Atherosclerosis” needs to be read closely in order to pick up the statement : “study participants received either specially produced dteasark chocolate with high flavanol content or chocolate that was regularly produced”. Researchers call that “stacking the deck” for showing dark chocolate is healthy.

Since there is no standard method for analyzing flavanols in foods, chocolate manufacturers have the consumer believing that the higher the cacao (70%, 72%, 86%) must indicate more flavanols. Unfortunately, people are consuming hundreds of calories daily thinking they are eating healthy. Flavanols are bitter tasting so sugar is added- usually at least 1 teaspoon per serving.

Your best bet for consuming any flavanols is to add 2 tablespoons cocoa powder into coffee, warm coconut beverage, oatmeal or yogurt. Don’t even bother thinking milk chocolate or cocoa mixes have flavanols. Another way to use cocoa powder is to make this chocolate dressing for fruit salads. A chocolate bar can be grated as a topping for the salad.

Strawberry Salad with Chocolate Dressing

3 cups chopped romaine lettuce, washed
1/2 cup baby spinach leaves, washed
2 cups hulled & sliced strawberries
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons CocoaWell powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped toasted macademia nuts
Grated dark chocolate square, optional

Arrange romaine and spinach leaves on plate. Top with strawberries. Combine vinegar, oil, cocoa powder and salt in small bowl. Beat thoroughly. Drizzle over strawberries. Top with nuts and grated chocolate. Makes 4 servings.
Calories per serving : 98; Protein 2 g, Carbohydrates 8 g, Fat 12 g, Sodium 235 mg.